Recently, Runner’s World posted an article on “6 Signs You’re Overtraining“.  It was a stupid article with things like “Did you set too lofty a goal?” and “Are you living in the past?” as answers.  I swear, sometimes these mags should just hire me to write because the people they have on staff are just dolts.  Anyway, you want to know if you’re REALLY overtraining, here’s some background and some markers to look for.

First off, overtraining is a syndrome.  A condition that develops due to longer term overstressing of the body’s metabolic systems.  The most common error that leads to this is poor program design.  Too much work with too little rest.  Therefore, aerobic athletes (runners, cyclists, swimmers, etc) are more susceptible due to the repetitive stress nature of their sport.  It can lead to chronic fatigue, illness and even injury.  Unfortunately, the physical symptoms of overtraining are the later signs and symptoms that pop up.  Here are some things to look for, physical included.

Stage 1:

Altered Mood states, including a loss of training motivation and decreased joy from training.  I tell my students to imagine the thing that you like the most in the world, whatever it is.  Now make that the last thing in the world that you would like to do.  You would rather gargle broken glass than do THAT.  Pretty sad, eh?

Stage 2:

Altered physiological function.  Here is where the things that we can’t see and never think about start to betray us.  Our tissue building hormones decrease, and our breakdown hormones increase.  The Blood Pressure starts to creep up the scale.  Our stored energy supplies start to drop and we feel more tired and achy and sore more consistently.

Stage 3:

Performance decline.  Simplest way to see this one.  You’re working as hard or harder than you have been, and you’re going backwards.  So you work harder and subsequently get worse.  Viscious circle.

Stage 4:

Illness, Injury, insomnia, etc.  Bad place to be.

So to prevent, what do you do?  Well, first, you do different stuff.  Don’t run every day, don’t bike every day.  Don’t lift the same body parts each day of each week.  Monday does not have to be chest day and any chest day does not have to include a bench press.  I know it’s blasphemy, but trust me here.  Second, take days off.  A day without exercise is not a wasted day.  Get out of the gym or off the road.  Hang out, have a quiet day, get a life.  Recovery is tantamount to adaptation.  If you can’t recover, you can’t progress.  Simple.  Y’all have a great day, and I’ll see you on the flip side.  Hopefully, with some good advice, you’ll be fresh and ready to tackle the next set of exercise goals.